Well, we finally got around to sitting down as a family and having The Big Talk. (No, not the one where "two mature people in a committed relationship love each other very much and wish super hard and then...the Magic Stork brings them a baby." But can you tell I practiced that one? It's my story, and I'm stickin' to it...) Anyway, this was the OTHER discussion that we vowed to have when we returned from vacation, the one where each person would be given the opportunity to express all of their thoughts and feelings on the subject, and then ultimately weigh in on whether or not they wanted to move to California.
Now, somewhere along the line Riley decided it would be fun to do a Secret Ballot. (Incidentally, he also demanded that his Toad stuffed animal--you know, the creature with the big round head from Mario Brothers?--be allowed a vote, since he'd made the trip with us. Yeah, that motion was vetoed in a hurry....) We humored him, since it's not like we wouldn't immediately know which little piece of paper belonged to each person anyway...after all, there are only four of us...and I've seen everyone's handwriting once or twice. (or a thousand-and-one-times...whatever...) And obviously, everyone already had heard plenty of my opinion and knew (crystal clearly) where I stood.
What the kiddos didn't know was that Husband had approached me one night after they went to bed to initiate a For Adult Ears Only chat. (No, not that kind...jeesh, what's wrong with you people? Kidding!) Although the actual "meeting" lasted about two hours (good grief, when that man really gets going, he sure can ramble), this was the takeaway as I understood it: 1) "I'm in" (pause....yaaaayyyyy!!! resume...) 2) B-U-T (dang it, I knew there had to be one of those)..."Only if we can get a nice house; I don't want to have to settle for a two-room shack, just to move to California." (He delivered this with the utmost mixture of earnestness and animation. I swear, for someone who ranks waaayyy low on the Drama Scale, he can bring it when he's motivated about something...) Once I assured him that I understood his concerns and would totally keep it under advisement when we undertook the actual real-estate-hunt-process, the Parental Duo was unified.
However, formal parliamentary procedures had been requested, and would be honored. So we gathered in the Halls of Democracy (aka: Mom and Dad's bedroom) for the session. Each representative recorded his (or her) vote, folded it the prescribed number of times (that would be: 3. Why? Because that's the number I called out impulsively when asked...) then placed it in the Ballot Box (the extremely official Penn State tin we brought back filled with potato chips from the Utz Factory tour). After I shook the container with great ceremony--to mix the four scraps as thoroughly as possible--I began removing them to read aloud. And the tally revealed (duh duh duh DAH): the kids loved California but still are reluctant about relocating. While that came as a bit of a disappointment to me, it was not entirely unexpected. A lengthy, in-depth conversation followed, during which we all stated our reservations and addressed them one-by-one as best we could (potential for missing family and friends topping the list, closely followed by nervousness about traipsing all-the-blessed-way across the continent and plopping down in an unfamiliar environment).
In the end, the determination was made that indeed, we're going through with it. While the boys aren't exactly jumping for joy at this stage, at least they don't have to wonder and worry about the "what ifs" any more. Instead, they can move on to the Planning and Execution phase...like selling a house...buying another one 3,000 miles away...packing all of our worldly possessions...figuring out how to transport 4 people and 2 cars to the West Coast...all while working and schooling and soccering and...all the other "ings" we need to stay on top of...ooh, it's gonna be a busy year...I'd better take a nap and get started!